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How to Feel Confident as a New Mom

It may take some time, but you will find your way.

JUMP TO:

• Is It Even Possible to Be Confident as a First-Time Mom?
• How to Shift Your Mindset And Become What You Believe
• It’s Possible to Balance Trusting Your Intuition & Searching for Information
• How to Stop Comparing Everything
• Why Leaning on Another Supportive Mama Who Gets You is Crucial
• The Bottom Line To Cultivating Confidence
• Other helpful resources

Is It Even Possible to Be Confident as a First-Time Mom?

“I can’t believe it…. We have a baby!” I half laughed-half cried in the moments right after giving birth to my daughter. I was exhausted and barely able to register how my life had just been forever changed in that instant. The next 24 hours were a blur of diapers, latching, crying, swaddling, belly massages (ugh), and constant check-ups. And even though the hospital room was cold, the bed was uncomfortable, and we really just wanted to be at home with our new little love, a slight wave of panic washed over both my husband and me when they announced that we could be discharged. We caught each other’s eyes, wide and questioning, silently asking, “Wait, what do we do now?”

Fast forward 5 years and 2 more daughters, and life is still a whirlwind of diapers, latching, crying, swaddling, belly massages (“Mom, your belly is so squishy!”), and constant check-ups. (Those boo-boo’s ain’t gonna kiss themselves!) Although I suppose having three kids makes me a veteran when it comes to motherhood, I still vividly remember how it felt to be a first-time mom. The uncertainty, the sleep deprivation (still struggling with that one, unfortunately), the unsolicited advice from everyone (thanks random stranger in the grocery store), the fear of failure, the mom guilt, and most of all, the lack of confidence in myself.

I’d like to give you some free unsolicited advice. (No, I’m not going to say “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” although if you can, go for it!) But let me first preface these insights with a pill that might be hard to swallow: You won’t feel confident as a new mom. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but hear me out. You CAN absolutely fake it ’til you make it. It’s gonna take time… but you WILL make it. You WILL find your confidence. Here’s how.

How to Shift Your Mindset and Become What You Believe

Our minds are more powerful than we give them credit for. When you hit a major transition in life, like creating a tiny human, your mind is doing some pretty heavy lifting trying to navigate all the newness. You’re in the trenches, as I like to call it. It’s do-or-die survival mode. And that puts tremendous stress on your brain. It’s easy for negative, intrusive thoughts to slide into your mental DMs. Especially when the learning curve is so high, you are so tired, and the baby is soooo fussy. It’s easy to feel like you have no clue what you’re doing, which, as we know, is pretty much a confidence-killer.

But there’s this really cool little thing called experience-dependent neuroplasticity, which is just a fancy way to say we can change our brain through our experiences. Our brains are designed to be malleable and constantly rewire themselves. Basically, everything you experience WILL alter the physical nature of your brain. 

So, take those pesky negative thoughts: If you constantly focus on your worry, mom guilt, fear, self-criticism… your brain will reshape itself to make you more vulnerable to worry, anxiety, and depression. You’ll find yourself only seeing the negatives of a situation and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, if you focus your thoughts on giving yourself grace, believing you are a good mom, and knowing it will get easier in time, your brain strengthens those neural connections. You’ll become more resilient, optimistic and have higher self-esteem in the long run. In the wise words of Oprah, “You don’t become what you want; you become what you believe.”

Try this right now: 

  1. Think about something you did well as a mom today. But don’t just notice it; really feel it too. 
  2. Take that thought and dwell on all the goodness in it for at least 20 seconds. (No fleeting thoughts here! And absolutely NO BUTS, unless, of course, your happy thought is that you cleaned a poopy butt really well…) This gives your brain time to fire those neurons and hardwire that belief into your brain. 
  3. Let the confidence boost commence.

It’s Possible to Balance Trusting Your Intuition & Searching for Information

Have you ever googled some seemingly harmless symptoms (albeit worrisome enough to google) and ended up convinced you were dying of cancer? With all the conflicting parenting advice/opinions/facts/hullabaloo out there, it’s no wonder we parents think we are ruining our children for life if we don’t do the RIGHT thing at ALL TIMES. Confidence goes out the window when your best friend says one thing, your mother says another, the internet, best-selling authors, pediatricians, or statistics all say yet another. And then, there’s your gut feeling. It’s so easy to second guess what we feel deeply in our gut because a trusted friend or family member disagrees. So my advice to cultivate confidence as a new mama? Dig into the latest research AND trust your mama instincts at the same time. 

When my oldest daughter was going into her terrible terrific twos, I had no idea how to handle her meltdowns. I didn’t feel comfortable punishing her for having big emotions. Yet, I watched others around me telling their kids to “stop crying” or sending them to timeout when they acted out or wouldn’t calm down quickly enough. I wondered if I was being too permissive by not following suit. I frantically searched the internet for information on whether I was screwing up my child by lack of discipline. Did I need to toughen up? Implement consequences? Or maybe, just maybe… was my gut telling me something that other parents weren’t aware of? 

Enter: Positive Parenting, a parenting style I had never heard of that I immediately embraced wholeheartedly. It presented exactly what I felt on a deeper level, and it had the research and neuroscience of child development to back it up! It taught me things I hadn’t even considered, and I’ve been a better parent for it. 

Try this right now:

  1. Think of an aspect of parenting that you’re second-guessing yourself in.
  2. Take some time to really look into what research says.
  3. Take into account what works for YOUR unique situation. It may not feel right or align with your values, or it could add more stress to your family dynamic. That’s why considering what your intuition says is crucial. 
  4. Find a balance between the two and choose the best solution for YOU. (Not your mom, or friend, or pediatrician, or… you get my point.) 

** Not sure where to start? I highly recommend reading Parenting Right From the Start by Dr. Vanessa LaPointe or Cribsheet by Emily Oster. 

How to Stop Comparing Everything

The more we worry, the less we get to enjoy motherhood. Falling into the comparison trap is hands-down the easiest way to lose confidence in yourself. Her baby is already crawling! Why isn’t mine? She pureés her own organic baby food. She must be a better parent than I am. Her Instagram photos are picture-perfect. My life feels like a hot mess right now. Why can’t I lose the baby weight like she did? You get it. Listen, we’ve all been there. 

So my advice? Figure out the things that trigger feelings of comparison, a “compare-snare,” if you will. (Social media, anyone?) Once you’re aware of what’s happening and how it makes you feel, try to minimize your exposure to it. And if that’s not possible because you’re addicted to the dopamine hit of a new like, when you do get triggered, remember that everybody has insecurities. (Even Beyoncé! Or Kate Middleton! Or Michelle Obama!) No one is perfect. Even the “perfect mom” has bad days. So stop believing the highlight reel of people’s lives. (Psst… Their highlight reel is not real life.) It’s only 1% (…maybe 2%) of their life. It’s not fair to compare the worst of yourself to the best of another. Even if it’s really easy to do.

Try this right now: 

  1. Create a mama-mantra that will help you overcome those moments when you’re being held captive by comparison. Something like, “I am enough,” or “A bad day does not make me a bad mom,” or “I’m still learning, and that’s okay.” Something short and easy to remember on the fly. 
  2. Write it down on a Post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror for a daily reminder to repeat it often, in good and bad times. 
  3. In moments of stress, simply repeat your mama-mantra and you’ll feel your heart rate slowing, your breathing becoming steady, and your confidence building up.

Why Leaning on Another Supportive Mama Who Gets You is Crucial

Chances are, the people you already surround yourself with probably look similar to you, have a similar upbringing or lifestyle, and have a similar belief system. That’s because we tend to like being around people who are similar to us. However, there may be people in your life who only diminish your self-confidence by questioning your decisions or flat-out disagreeing with them. When it’s a stranger, it’s easier to brush it off. When it’s your own family member, it’s a wee bit harder. 

So, for my last but certainly not least piece of advice, I highly suggest that you confide in another supportive and like-minded mama who shares your attitude toward motherhood and all the decisions surrounding it. This is what psych-nerds call consensual validation, and it will absolutely boost your confidence in your own attitude and the decisions you’re making! 

Having just any ol’ mama friend/sister or literally your own mother is sometimes not enough. Even though they get motherhood because they are indeed mothers, they’re contributing to your lack of confidence in a big way if they’re opposing rather than supporting your decisions. 

Find the mama who has been there and also totally listens to you, encourages you, supports you, builds you up, and pushes you to be the best version of yourself. That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree on everything, but it does mean that she won’t hurt your confidence in the process if she doesn’t agree. Plus, you’ll likely agree on way more than you disagree on anyway (remember that consensual validation)!

Try this right now:

  1. Think about a mama who just gets you and accepts you for who you are.
  2. Go ahead and send her a quick text thanking her for being so supportive. If she doesn’t already know, tell her how you’ve been struggling with a lack of self-confidence in this season of life.
  3. Ask if she has any tried and true suggestions for your specific situation.
  4. Lean on her.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If she’s a true friend, she’ll be honored to guide you through the trenches.  

The Bottom Line To Cultivating Confidence

It is completely normal to have a lack of confidence in something you’ve never done before. Even if you’ve babysat or worked with kids, motherhood is a whole new ballgame. It’s the difference between sitting in the stands, maybe catching a fly ball every once in a while, and being up to bat in a sport you barely know the rules to. 

So, give yourself permission to:

  • Believe in yourself.
  • Trust your intuition.
  • Ask for help or support.
  • Know that you’re the best mama for the job.

Confidence will come when your decisions yield positive outcomes. You won’t always choose the right thing. Remember, there’s a big learning curve. When you feel like you’re failing, acknowledge and validate your own feelings. Repeat that mama-mantra until you believe it, and confide in your supportive mama friend for a little extra encouragement. You got this.

Other helpful resources:

3 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently After Having a Baby

Help! We Just Had a Baby and Now We Can’t Stop Fighting

5 Reasons Why Marriage Can Be Harder After Having A Baby

Dear Wife, This is What You Should Know About Your Husband After Having a Baby

OH, Baby! Online

7 Ways to Increase Trust in Marriage

Strengthen the foundation of your relationship with these tips.

Trust is the foundation of a healthy marriage. It’s like oil in a car engine, heat in an oven, Beyoncé in Destiny’s Child. Without it, things just don’t work well. 

Ideally, marital trust should grow with time. It’s a glue in your relationship that ought to get stronger, even though it isn’t always the case. Trust can rust. 

The good news is you can strengthen that glue. 

We all have the power to value or devalue a marriage, to help or hurt our spouse’s well-being. Think about it: the next words I choose to say to my wife can either make her smile or cry or make her just plain mad. I’ve got that power. (So does she.) And my words will make me look more or less trustworthy in her eyes.

A big part of increasing trust in marriage is channeling that power to be beneficial and to do that often. 

Want to increase trust in your marriage? Here are 7 ways to amp it up!

1. Extend Forgiveness

Forgiveness goes a long way. It means you’ve decided to work through negative emotions, that you’ve let go of the need to “get even.” Forgiving your spouse shows you’re willing to recognize they are human. Which, in turn, takes the pressure off having to be perfect for you. And it shows you can be trusted to not keep score of wrongdoings and that you are committed to trust again after a fallout. 

2. Uphold Boundaries

Maybe the idea of boundaries seems limiting to you. But when it comes to building trust, it’s quite the opposite. Healthy boundaries can keep you both on the same page. How you decide to navigate social media. What you view online. Friendships (particularly with the opposite sex). Resolving conflict. Spending leisure time. Dividing up chores. Handling these and other issues well can increase trust.

3. Express Humility

Humility is simply an accurate view of the self, both the good and the bad. You express humility when you use your power to build your spouse up instead of yourself or ask for forgiveness. And research suggests that humility is associated with greater trust and marriage satisfaction. 

4. Exercise Vulnerability

Brené Brown says vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and exposure. It’s being fully seen, warts and all. Research says trust arises when risk is involved. In other words, you’ve got the power to either affirm or attack each other’s vulnerable spots. The more you show vulnerability in your marriage and affirm your spouse’s openness, the stronger the trust. 

5. Practice Reliability

Your trustworthiness is also affected by how well your spouse perceives your follow-through. Do you follow up with people, complete projects, see your goals to the end? Keep your commitments? Have you ever given your spouse cause to doubt your reliability? When your spouse sees you as reliable, it builds more trust. 

6. Show Self-Control

The same idea goes for your spouse’s perception of your self-control. Do you typically keep your cool? Choose your words calmly and carefully? Keep your moral integrity intact? Do you try to respond in helpful ways, even if it’s tough or costly? These are all signs of self-control that build trustworthiness between you two.

7. Develop Confidence in Your Spouse

Author and researcher Shaunti Feldhahn says that couples who believe the best about each other have high marital satisfaction. Even during conflict, both acknowledge they’re on the same team. And no matter what, their spouse has their back. This kind of confidence boosts the marital trust factor.

The bottom line is, powerful trust makes for a powerful marriage. Share your intentions with your spouse. Begin working on one or two of these tried-and-true trust practices this week. Trust is key. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

It’s hard to watch our teens feel insecure or see them lacking self-confidence. We want to encourage them to be more confident in themselves. So, we often have specific knee-jerk reactions to their insecurity. It’s easy to understand why. 

As parents, we…

  • Want them to see themselves in all the wonderful ways we see them. 
  • Know a lack of confidence can keep them from trying new things and finding their passions. 
  • Understand how confidence is a valuable character quality and will help them be successful in life. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to just watch them oozing insecurity and low self-confidence

Here are four things you can do to help encourage an insecure teen. But first, a couple of things NOT to do.

We sometimes try these two “shortcuts to security,” but they often make matters worse.

  • We Over-Praise Our Teens. Teens can sniff this out right away—especially if they just finished some low-risk, easy task or they know they didn’t do their best.
  • We Emphasize Results Over Effort and Perseverance. Just tell them to do their best and have fun. Accept the results the way you want your teen to accept them and grow from them. (Critique behavior, NOT your teen as a person.)

Instead of parenting your insecure teen in those ways, try doing these four things: 

  1. Be honest and vocal about your own insecurities. We all have insecurities and areas where we lack confidence. If you’re honest and talk to your teen about these things, you normalize those feelings for your teen. This is important because of what you’re going to do next…
  1. Model how to face your insecurities and work through your lack of confidence. Let your teen hear your positive, grounded self-talk. Allow them to see how you prepare for challenges. Tell them your goals. Be mindful of how you respond to your own successes and failures.
  1. Be a parent your teen wants to talk to and develop a healthy relationship with. This involves being available and regularly spending time with your teen. It means being a good listener and not overreacting or bombarding your teen with a million questions. Listen “between the lines” for the source(s) of their insecurity. Be gentle.
  1. Talk to your teen about social media. Model healthy media use. Yes, social media. It impacts how your teen forms and values their identity. Talk to your teen about the “unreality” of social media and the dangers of the comparison game. Your teen is looking at someone’s staged, filtered, touched-up highlight reel and comparing it to their own “behind-the-scenes” footage.

Most of us feel insecure sometimes, but some teens feel insecure most or all of the time. 

—These feelings can be because of their childhood, traumatic experiences, past failures, or rejection. You’ll want to explore all these things with your teen, but you have to be the kind of parent they’ll open up to.

—Your teen may be dealing with depression, loneliness, or social anxiety they need to see a professional about. Put counseling on the table as a positive, normal step.

—Sometimes, our perfectionism or criticism has contributed to our teen’s insecurity and lack of confidence. If you feel that may be the case, be honest with your teen, own what you need to own, and apologize. 

Insecurity and low self-confidence are not “light switch” problems. You can’t just flip a switch to make your teen secure and confident. Insecurity and low self-confidence are “thermostat” problems. You can’t “dial it up” for your insecure teen, but you can encourage them. Create a healthy environment, be a role model, and open the lines of communication. Then, your teen can grow in confidence and security!

Related Blogs:

5 Ways to Help Your Child Be More Confident

How to Be a Parent Your Child Wants to Talk To

5 Ways to Help Your Teen Through the Unknown

How to Prevent Depression in Teens

How to Help My Child Handle Anxiety

The goal of parenting is to raise competent and self-reliant adults. You may be shocked because parents often think about raising “their” children. In reality, you’re raising someone’s future spouse, someone’s prospective employee, and someone’s future parent. For your future adult to be successful, things like communication, conflict management, and interpersonal skills are necessary. Additionally, being self-aware and confident is vital. 

For your child to have confidence, it’s important for them to appreciate or value their own ability to complete a task. They build confidence by doing something or even attempting to do something they have never done before, not by just your words complimenting their ability. 

So how do I help develop a confident child? What are the ways to help my child be more confident?

Here are 5 ways to help your child be more confident.

1. Teach them to learn new skills.

To build confidence, your child has to learn new skills. We have to actually teach them the skills. You can’t make the assumption they can or will learn by you telling them. I remember several times being frustrated with my son when I asked him to clean his room. Of course, we differed on what “clean” meant. At the point of frustration, I thought about how I wanted him to learn how to clean his room, so we used this process. 

  • I do. You watch. Modeling.    
  • We do it together. Collaboration.    
  • You do. I watch. Oversight. 
  • You do it and make it your own. Confidence!   

The goal of this process is for your child to develop their skills over time. This is not an overnight or one-day process. You have to be fine that it takes as long as it takes. You have to “get over” the fact they don’t do it exactly as you would. You’ve provided your child with a process to acquire new skills that will benefit their future. It’s about their self-confidence. Get over that it doesn’t have to look exactly like yours.

2. Help them find their interests.

Give your child opportunities to try a variety of activities (not all are at the same time of course). Encourage your child to participate in academic, athletic, and artistic activities to find what they enjoy most. Once they find their passion, embrace and encourage their strengths.

3. Effort matters, so don’t quit.

As your child builds confidence, it’s not about perfection. The effort really does matter. Not effort for a participation trophy, but giving the effort to try something new and out of their comfort zone. Discourage quitting as an option because it takes time to learn something new. Your child is developing a growth mindset as well as building their confidence amid struggle.

4. Let them fail.

It’s natural for parents to want their children to succeed at everything they try. Failing doesn’t make your child a failure. You learn more from failure than from success. Encourage them to do hard things and let them fail.

I believe Thomas Edison said it best: “I haven’t failed. I just learned 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” Or I think Albert Einstein said it well: “Failure is success in progress.”

5. Model confidence for them.

You have to remember your child is always watching you. As you embrace new tasks and challenges, you’re providing a model for your child. First, learning never ends. Also, you get to show your child how you learn and continue to build your own confidence. 

7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. 

How Do I Get My Kid Into Harvard?

How To Raise A Resilient Child

Raising a confident child is raising a future adult who will be the best version of themselves. They recognize that confidence is not just something they can have in the activities they attempt, but it is who they are as a person. You see, confidence leads to more confidence – even in things your child is unfamiliar with. Confidence leads to competence.

10 Tips to Build Confidence (For Ladies Only)

You can influence others along the way.

I remember when I was in the awkward teen stage of life. It was so difficult to navigate my way through high school. Unfortunately, the internal criticism didn’t stop when I turned 18; it followed me into adulthood.

Turns out, I’m not alone when it comes to building confidence. According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code for Girls:

  • 92% of teens want to change something about the way they look.
  • 9 out of 10 girls feel pressure to be skinny.
  • 53% of girls are unsatisfied with their bodies (that goes up to 78% by age 17).
  • 7 out of 10 girls will not speak out in a classroom or work environment because of the way they look.

Even today, there are times when I’ve talked myself out of something because my confidence told me I was incapable of handling a job or assignment. There have also been times when I’ve felt not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough.

And, if you’re honest, you can probably relate to those same feelings. It’s totally normal! We all experience negative, confidence-breaking, and harsh moments within ourselves. We tend to be our biggest critics, and most of the time, we’re super rude to ourselves. I mean, would you walk up to someone and say, “Gosh, your hips are big,” or “You’re totally not smart enough to be a part of THAT conversation with THOSE people”?

So, thinking into the future, what are young girls supposed to do if their adult role models do not set good examples of confidence? What does low self-esteem teach the next generation? I wonder how much those percentages would change if we spoke out more in favor of body positivity and took away the negative stigma around failures and the fear of being embarrassed.

I know it would take a while to accomplish a goal that big, but it isn’t impossible to build confidence.

There are already countless organizations and empowerment groups that promote confidence-building practices for the rising female generation, but even the best of intentions are pointless if we don’t listen to them.

As human beings, we’re more likely to take action if someone we know is also participating, so mothers, big sisters, cousins, aunts, family friends, ministers, youth leaders, community organization workers, etc., I have a challenge for you!

Below are 10 ways you can teach yourself how to love who you are, enjoy your process, and live in your moment while influencing the future generation of women around you.

  1. Perfection is impossible! Perfection does not equal success. Stop worrying about things being perfect. Settle with, “I know it was my best and that’s good enough.”
  2. Be your own cheerleader! Not everyone is going to support you, so sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back and say, “You did that, girlfriend!”
  3. Don’t look for approval from others. In the past (ok, I’m still working on this), everything I did circled around other people. I wondered if they would like it or if it made others uncomfortable. But now, I ask myself, “Would they do the same for me or are other people in charge of my life?”
  4. Appreciate the small and big things. There are studies that actually link happiness to gratitude! We tend to be more positive when we appreciate things in our life.
  5. Focus on the now! (In my opinion, this one is most important.) We are the happiest and most confident when we are living in the present, according to Kay and Shipman. Stop stressing over what happened because it already happened. And, please stop getting anxious over the future! Work hard, do what you need to do, and just do it! If the end result is bad, just remember, “I can’t change it, but at least I can say I did it.”
  6. Treat yourself with respect. Need I go any further? Stop the negative self-talk, doubts, and obsessive desire to be perfect.
  7. Make sure your goals are realistic. Can you really do it? Do you have time for it? Is it something that interests you? Do you want to do it? If no is the answer to any of these, please change the goal for the sake of your happiness and sanity
  8. Rewire your Brain. Yes, it’s possible! Did you know that we can reteach our brains to be more confident and positive? Cut out those negative comments and tell yourself how amazing you are every day!
  9. Say NO! Can all the people-pleasers raise their hands at this time? Yeah, start saying no, and be confident in your no! It’s a great feeling and it also teaches you to stand by your word and build—you guessed it—CONFIDENCE.
  10.  You will fail at some point… I know some of you all are like, “Nope, not me.” Let me be the bearer of bad news. You will fail many times, but that is one of the best parts of life. You get told no, you get told you are not good enough, you didn’t do it right, somebody else won instead of you… I mean I could go on with all the potential failures, but that’s not important. Failure creates your story. Failure makes you stronger. And, failure builds character. Just remember: A minor setback can lead to a major comeback!

Looking for more relationship resources? Click here!

Image from Unsplash.com

The largest college admissions scandal in history had many people shaking their heads in disgust. 

In hopes of getting their kids admitted to prestigious schools, parents used bribery, paid off test administrators to change test scores and paid athletic directors and coaches to add names as potential recruits for sports teams. This is troubling on so many levels. 

Many kids actually worked hard to earn their way into college, but they may have lost their place to someone whose parents worked to play the system. This scandal exposes significant problems in the college admissions process, along with another major dilemma affecting many young people today: overzealous parents trying to snowplow the roads of life for their children. Overparenting your child can cause some major problems.

One parent arranged for someone else to take a college entrance exam for his son. He told the third party it was imperative that his son never know about it. Imagine being the son who thought he earned the score on that test, only to find out from the media that it was a lie because his father made it happen. Talk about robbing someone of their confidence

Parents who do things like this often say the motivation behind their behavior is wanting the best for their child, but at what cost? Keep in mind the definition of success for one child might look very different for another. Parents who create a false sense of accomplishment for their child aren’t helping by overparenting; they are hurting. In the end, these young people will pay a hefty price for their parents’ actions whether they knew about their parents’ actions ahead of time or not.

Warren Buffett once told a group of Georgia Tech students, “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.” Buffet realizes that money can’t buy love or happiness, nor does it guarantee success. 

When parents don’t allow their children to fail and learn how to pick themselves up and keep putting one foot in front of the other, they are doing an extreme disservice to their children. Failure is a part of life and can be incredibly motivating when one isn’t afraid of taking risks. Allowing them to experience failure and supporting them as they regain their footing is a very powerful confidence-builder.

Parents have to ask themselves if the motivation behind the overparenting behavior is self-serving. For example, does it just make you look good as a parent or is this in your child’s best interest? 

If your child has no aspirations to attend college, none of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering you do will change that. In fact, it will likely take a huge toll on your parent-child relationship instead.

So what can parents do?

See your child for who he/she is in their gifts, talents, dreams and passions. They will likely have different passions and areas of giftedness that may take them on a path for which you haven’t prepared. You may even want to tell them, “You will never be able to support yourself doing that.” 

Instead of saying those words, help them know what it will take to succeed. Encourage them and put parameters around where you must draw the line, then be brave enough to let them try. Even if they fail, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valuable experience. It also doesn’t mean they can’t change their direction if they decide what they are doing isn’t working.

Pediatrician and author Meg Meeker shared these thoughts in a blog post addressing this issue:

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where, or if, your child goes to college. It matters that he is prepared and equipped to lead a healthy adult life. Give him that and you will have given him more than an Ivy League education ever could.”

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

Katty Kay is definitely not the only woman to fall into the trap of believing that if she doesn’t map everything out, things will fall apart while she’s away. In fact, more than likely, many women do the very same thing.

Kay is a British journalist, author, and broadcaster. She speaks often about the importance of confidence and competence in women.

Kay and her husband travel a lot. In the past, whenever she planned to leave town, she lined up extra babysitters and stocked the fridge. She made lots of lists of all the kids’ activities and such to ensure that her husband didn’t forget anything. At some point, she realized she went to all of this extra effort to prepare for leaving town, but when her husband went out of town, he just left. This irritated her a bit.

So, she talked with him about it. That conversation went something along the lines of, “Whenever I’m going out of town, I do all of this pre-prep for you to make sure everything gets taken care of. Yet when you go out of town, you do nothing.”

His response was, “Yes, you do, but I didn’t ask you to do that.”

The next time she went out of town, she did nothing. And, lo and behold, the house was still standing and the kids were taken care of when she returned home.

Here’s the deal. According to research, men want to know: Am I adequate? Am I able? Am I any good at what I do on the outside? 

Despite all the well-meaning intentions behind the pre-prep, the message men hear isn’t that their wife loves them so much they’re doing things for them before they leave town. Instead, they hear: “I’m not confident you can remember everything you need to do. So, I’ll put a safety net in place to make sure none of the balls get dropped while I’m away.”

Harvard-educated analyst Shaunti Feldhahn found that three-quarters of the men she surveyed, if forced to choose, would give up feeling loved by their wife if they could just feel respected by her.

Feldhahn wanted to understand this better, and she spoke with a friend about it. He said, “I love my wife, but nothing I do is ever good enough.” He explained that they’d recently had friends over for dinner. Afterward, he cleaned up the kitchen while his wife ran to a meeting. When she came home, his wife kissed his cheek, looked over his shoulder and sighed. She then went into the kitchen and started cleaning the countertops. Feldhahn asked her friend if there was anything his wife could have done differently. He said, “Yes, she could have said thanks.”

Feldhahn explains that when women are thinking about something, they usually process out loud so there’s no question what they’re thinking. On the other hand, when men think and process, they almost do an internal chess match before they ever talk about it. Her research showed that instead of questioning the husband’s decision, saying, “Help me understand,” will often reveal a long, well-thought-out explanation.

For example, one wife went to a birthday party, leaving Dad with the kids. When she returned, she asked her husband why he had given the kids juice for dinner instead of milk. He got mad. She got defensive, and things went downhill from there.

Feldhahn asked the husband to help his wife understand what happened. He shared that when he went to the fridge to get the milk, he realized if he gave the kids milk for dinner there wouldn’t be enough for breakfast. He was going to go get more milk, but the baby was already asleep. They’d been having a terrible time with her sleep cycle, so he didn’t want to wake her up just to go get milk. He decided to give the kids juice, which he diluted by half with water so they wouldn’t have as much sugar. After the explanation, the look on his wife’s face said it all. This was a perfect example of assuming there was no thinking behind the behavior.

Kay says the need for perfection is often the very thing that holds women back at work, at home, and in life in general. Just because you may not have it down perfectly doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified to do the job. Just because your spouse doesn’t clean the kitchen just like you doesn’t mean you have to go behind them and “fix it.” Women have to be willing to step out of their comfort zone and try. According to Kay, learning how to fail and still move forward is important. And finally, as women grow in their confidence and competence, she encourages them to pass it on.

What Men Need From Their Wives

Women don’t want people pigeonholing them, penalizing them for taking risks and questioning their competence. Ironically, this is the exact thing women often do to their husbands.

Feldhahn believes it’s important to let your husband be the dad he wants to be, not the dad you want him to be. Kay also points out that neither women nor men like feeling or being seen as incompetent or lacking in confidence. Feldhahn encourages women to stop sending signals or telling your man he is inadequate and doesn’t measure up. Instead of questioning his decisions, assume he has thought about it, and seek to understand.

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

There’s no doubt that sometimes men and women see and do things differently, but that’s ok! Here’s what husbands say they need from their wives.

College was a good time for me, but something happened when college wasn’t the center of my life anymore: It was like I woke up and didn’t know who I was. Change is hard, and I almost lost myself trying to adjust to my new situation in some unhealthy ways. Do you ever feel like you have lost your identity?

Author Anne-Marie Alger defines “identity” as “a group of attributes, qualities and values that define how we view ourselves, and how others may also view us.” Identity involves the labels we place on ourselves, the activities we do or even the places we work. But what happens when we let those labels take over our whole lives? We get consumed by one attribute or quality, and then we begin to lose the rest of ourselves. What happens if we are stripped of that one quality or attribute that we strongly identified ourselves with? A guest on Oprah’s podcast Food For Thought said it this way: “We lose ourselves because we are betraying ourselves in some way.” Now that’s food for thought!

For my entire life, people have viewed me as upbeat and very social.

But then adulthood hit me after college graduation and I was not ready. I’ve always had people around me, but I wasn’t nearly as social the last semester of school and after graduation because “adulting” required me to be alone more. And it made me feel like I had lost my identity.

Seeing less people and having fewer social interactions caused my moods to change and I was not the upbeat and social Akeyla that everyone knew. My friends and I had to work, so our relationships felt like they were changing in a negative way. We were too busy to connect with each other. I noticed I was changing, and my energy was so different. I felt depressed because my social life wasn’t as full as it had been. And I began to hate that my social life dictated my feelings and mood.

Recently, something hit me while I was teaching at a summer camp. I began to realize that I had let my social life become my identity. This realization helped to change my perspective and as a result, my relationships with my friends and family began to improve. Moving into adulthood, I now know can have faith and confidence in myself, my talents and my abilities.

Here are some tips to remember when you feel like you’ve lost your identity:

  • The most important relationship you have is with yourself! Knowing who you are will make it easier to seek help if you begin to lose yourself.
  • Remember to invest in yourself. Alone time can be the best time!
  • You don’t have to build your life around socializing, but there are lots of ways to keep in touch with your friends. The older I get, the more I realize that people are just busy. We can’t be around each other 24/7 but we can still keep in touch.
  • Stay connected with your family. They are your biggest supporters. And guess what? They know you the best! They will probably notice any changes before you do. For example, my Nana noticed the changes in me first.
  • Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so get used to it. Find healthy ways to deal with it since it will be happening for the rest of your life!

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